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Blackhawks back up fans’ ‘Dee-troit ...’ chant

Updated: June 18, 2013 7:57AM

If you believe things happen for a reason, then the Blackhawks’ Western Conference ­semifinal against the Red Wings was meant to be. If you sit on the other side and believe life is a series of ­coincidences, then this series is simple chance.

But in these brutally partisan times, it’s nice to see the two sides of the argument finding common ground in the certainty that Detroit sucks.

That’s not me talking. That was the United Center crowd talking Wednesday night, the same way Chicago Stadium used to talk, with a sneer, in unison and at high decibels levels. The Red Wings are moving to the Eastern Conference next year, and it’s fair to say that Chicago will send them off the only way it knows, with those ­unwelcoming chants of “Dee-troit sucks, Dee-troit sucks!’’

But deep down, most people around here are sad to see the Wings move into the conference that caters to the Eastern time zone. They know this has been a great rivalry filled with great hockey. So for the Red Wings to leave without one more gloves-off, bare-knuckles showdown? No.

This is only way it should end.

So there they were, going at it as if it were sudden death, which it is if you’re interested in winning the Stanley Cup. And for much of the night, it was exactly as you might expect, with neither the Blackhawks’ No. 1 seed nor the Red Wings’ No. 7 seed meaning a whole lot. The Wings werre coming off a surprising seven-game series victory over the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks.

But the Hawks put away the Red Wings 4-1, thanks to third-period goals by Johnny Oduya, Marcus Kruger and Patrick Sharp. Guess what the crowd chanted moments after each of those scores? Yep. Detroit: not a very good city.

Oduya took a pass in the slot from Sharp and beat Jimmy Howard to break a 1-1 tie in the third. Kruger followed with a goal to lock it up. Sharp added an empty-netter.

“We just keep playing our game,’’ Sharp said. “We’ve done that since the first game of the regular season. Whether we’re up a couple or down a couple or tie game, we just keep pressing and playing to our strengths. Sooner or later, I feel like we can break teams down.’’

The Hawks’ defense was excellent and goalie Corey Crawford was good when he had to be. Brent Seabrook did a great job of swatting the puck away during a wild third-period scramble in front of the net. If he hadn’t, it would have been a 3-2 game, and then who knows?

It’s why, for all the enthusiasm you might have after Game 1, even after watching the Hawks outshoot the Red Wings 42-21, you might want to hold on. There is going to be nothing easy about this series. You figure the Wings will wake up because they usually do against the Hawks.

“It’s going to be a tight series, but I was happy with our start,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said.

The Hawks didn’t show much rust after a five-day layoff ­following their series victory over the Minnesota Wild. The Red Wings looked as if they tired as the game wore on. Maybe that had something do with coming off a seven-game series.

“They were way quicker than us,’’ Red Wings coach Mike ­Babcock said. “They executed way better.’’

Quenneville is like every other coach in that he believes the opponent, no matter how weak and puny, is just waiting to erupt against his team. But it’s apparent he’s very concerned about this ­series. How do I know that? Because he made Viktor Stalberg, who had a +16 plus/minus this season, a healthy scratch for the game.

Did Quenneville sacrifice Stalberg to let his players know that they had better stay sharp or else? It seems like a strange time to send a message. Players need a reminder that this is important? Now?

We’re not going to see much of the Red Wings around here in the years to come, unless the teams meet in a Stanley Cup final down the road. There will be few ­opportunities for fans to scream their deepest thoughts about our friends to the east. Then again, Hawks fans are the kind of people who respond to basic questions such as, “Excuse me, can you tell me what time it is?’’ with, “Why, yes, Detroit sucks!’’

Kind of gives you a deep sense of inner peace knowing all is right with the world.

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